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tv   Mosaic  CBS  December 18, 2011 5:00am-5:30am PST

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good morning and welcome to mosaic. i'm ron swisher. it's always a joy to host mosaic. you've probably heard of plymouth church of christ. today we have two pastors from that church. lawrence and gregory, great to have you. >> great to be here. >> thank you. >> it started a long time ago, we had drawn a number of jazz musicians there and started using that as a something to
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think about in our lives of faith. >> what time or how, how many years ago? >> i got there about 12 years ago. there was always, already, wonderful pianist mark little, jazz pianist and david sturdevant. the church was in such decline, they decided they would put some resources into music and try something different. >> i came as a member seven years ago, then i was called as associate pastor two years ago. >> i was at your ordination. >> i was surprised you didn't grow up in the church. tell us a little about your background. >> i, i grew up in south central los angeles, i grew up in a family that called itself baptist, but we weren't regular churchgoers. our sunday morning tradition was
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that we made a huge breakfast, the entire family and we listened to jazz. when i was a child, i thought that was church. you eat a good meal and listen to jazz. imagine my joy when i found this church that had all these wonderful jazz musicians. my parents would take turns playing albums. my mom would play carmen mccrea. >> that's great. well you know, when it comes to music, so vital to the church, as we know, but how did the church make such a transition? some churches battle whether they're going to sing a him or gospel or spiritual. >> i think the transition with gradual. i think mint sister before i got there had done some changes in terms of bringing in chants and other things and a variety of
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music. we still have a variety of music. we call ourselves the jazz and justice church, but we have, we sing regular himself sometimes. we use chants, we do very, a range of music and it all fits. but, jazz means more to us than just the style of music. >> did you ever have great resistance to it? >> yes, i think some of the people were, one of our dear friends who is now 93. her name's jean. she says she was resisting. she'd always been in the choir and just missed the church music. what she really thought of church music. then she said she started looking around and seeing what joy the congregation had and
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then she started focusing on everybody else's joy and gradually decided she loved what was going on. >> it's great to hear that. 93. >> i think she would enjoy that music too. >> now, you said, you said you fit right in when you came to hear that music. >> yeah. >> why was it this particular church? >> there's something that lois said. jazz is, we love music and we love jazz. but jazz is also for us. when jazz musicians improvise, they're not just doing any old thing, that's that skill combined with surrender. surrender to the spirit, trust in god. so jazz is a met for for our walk of faith as well. that just felt so perfect. >> that really fits. >> yeah. >> we're going to come back to that, as well as the justice
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part of that in our next segment. so, please join us with lois and with marjorie. jazz and justice.
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welcome back to mosaic. we were talking to lois and marjorie. tell us a little about the spiritual dimensions what you were alluding to earlier. your theme about god still speaking. tell us about that. >> yeah. we, it's our denomination, several years ago now, began a campaign to invite new members
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into the united church of christ. and the theme for that campaign, god is still speaking. we encourage people to recognize that we worship a god who, who loves us and who is engaged in our process of growth and transformation, but that's a journey that requires some trust. that's why this metaphor of jazz is important to us. the spirit of jazz is, is a spirit of trust in a higher power. >> what would you add to that, lois? >> i think it's embodied in our services that they might look like many other services, but that we try to give other people, just as in jazz, different people take center stage, we give each other center stage and many people back them
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up, as well as we can. and we always say "one of our favorite things, there are no mistakes in worship." we try to get away from the performance aspect and get into the moment and get really be present to worship. >> i see. i heard mow davis once said, jazz is play ing what's not there, instead of playing what's there. that sounds like maybe some of that takes place. being open to that spirit. anything can possibly happen. >> yeah. >> do you have a certain message that might encourage that, without that being about performance? >> that's a great question, i can't name particular ways or methods that we use. um...i would say that if a
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mistake happens and it's clearly a mistake, we laugh about it. just say "okay, that happened and you know, big deal." we do not, rarely do we worry about what happened. >> that's good. >> what about the sermon? >> no mistakes in the sermon. [laughter] >> no mistakes in the sermon. [laughter] >> moments when you feel like it's just not connecting, but i guess, with that kind of atmosphere, in spirit, it allows for you to feel that way and not feel like you're a failure. >> that's right. yeah. >> to some extent. >> you want to do your best, no question about that. >> let's look at the justice
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part. >> that's been easily connected. >> i think, i want to, the one thing about justice that i want to say is many, many churches are engaged in profound works of justice, more than we are, maybe, but we've always wanted to put that in front of us, as a goal, not that we are the best at justice in the world, but it's always out there. that's what jesus called us. that was jesus' life. we are following in jesus' path. we have to be about justice if we're going to follow jesus. it's more for us than it is to say that, that we are so good at this. >> i see. >> just, as lois said, this is aspirational for us as much as anything. this is who we are trying to be and to live into. and there's something that i
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believe cornell west said this, justice is what love looks like in public. jesus' ministry was a ministry of love. jesus, when asked what is the most important command? he said to love god with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. justice is love made visible. it's what love looks like in public. it's about making love for our fellow man part of our system, part of our policies. that, for us, is a very important part, the heart really, and truly of our walk as people of faith. >> we received an e-mail from you, a couple, i guess a month or so ago about occupy san francisco and 2 or 300 clergy showed up. we were there all day for prayer, support and so forth. what led to that? >> i think what led to it was a frustration, in some way, with,
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what we were hearing was this was just a bunch of anarchists, this was one group of people, they didn't have a message, that kind of thing and what the message they were giving was the message of the hebrew prophets and of jesus. we felt it was important to give that message some depth and substance and more in force with the clergy. we did have, inner faith clergy. we had christian ministers, but we also had amoms, rabbis and a variety of people. it was a wonderful event. it was a one time thing, but hopefully that we will all be led from this point on to talk about this, incredible, economic injustice in our country. >> it was truly inspiring, as
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you said, the prophets, micah, especially, do justice. love, mercy and kindness. you had it there. >> yeah. >> we were grateful to have you there. >> the reason i came all the way to oakland. i enjoyed it. i think it said to us all how important it is to be engaged where we are. >> i hope it said to the people gathered at the occupy san francisco encampment that we, as clergy people, get it. we love you and support you and care for you. the people's response was very heart-warming. we all remember how many people came to us and thanked us for being there. that was, yeah-- >> continue with us as we talk about jazz, justice and being involved in the world and society around us with lois and
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marjory. company
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welcome back to mosaic. you might be thinking "where is this great church?" so you can go there. >> we're at 424 monta vista avenue, the corner of oakland avenue and monta visit. near piedmont area. that neighborhood. >> what time are your services? >> 11:00 in the morning on sundays. >> any other services like bible studies or groups during the week that people can attend? >> we have a scripture meditation on wednesday at 1:00. and other special services. marjory leads some advent services. >> that's right. >> and the easiest thing to do is to go to our website,
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www.plymouthoakland.org. there's all kinds of information there about upcoming services, not just the ones coming up during this season of advent and christmas, but lois and i were saying on the way over, one of our favorite services is our annual mardi gras services. we have a mardi gras service before ash wednesday, before we go into the season of lent. we have all these great musicians to come out. worship and a free concert all in one. >> tell us about your background. you've been in ministry about 12 years, lois and marjory about two. lois, when did you start? what proportion in college? >> i started as a social worker. i worked mainly in san francisco
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as the geriatric social worker. i went around, all over every neighborhood in san francisco, visiting home bound elders in their home. then i stopped to have my second child and was going to take a little break. the break ended up seeing me am seminary. i graduated from pacific school of religion in 1997 and became ordained in 1998 and then graduated from plymouth in 2000. >> marjory, you had an interesting background, as you said. >> i was an educator from a family of educators. >> i began as a budget lobbyist
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for the teacher's union. co-founded a charter school in west oakland. did that work for about ten years. never would have thought i'd become a church pastor. they would address all the women on staff as momma. my co-founder and co-director of the school. >> i thought, what are those children talking about, did they know something i didn't know. >> about ten years ago, you were doing a program with jahari. >> it was called how i got older. a celebration of gospel music and spoken words. jahari was in seminary. he was spending the year working with us at the west oakland community school.
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he had the idea of doing this production and invited several friends to be part of it. all of a sudden, he got an announcement that marjory's going to be ordained. [laughter] >> it was a pressing and surprise every step of the way. i think lois saw things in me that i hadn't seen. it is truly one of the greatest joys of my life to be doing ministry and to be doing ministry with lois mueller who is an amazing pastor and amazing colleague. >> i've appreciated your ministry over the years and your commitment. i'm glad you're working together. i remember, you, lois, dealing
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with the homicide and you had the crosses on the lawn, what was that about? >> at one point we saw that st. columbia catholic church on st. pablo was marking every homicide with a cry. we were moved by that. we thought some place, a church more in the mills, not that we considered ourselves really hills church, but more, not in an area that's impacted by violence. that we need to make a statement, that we are all of oakland. whatever happens in the flat land of oakland happens to us too. for a while, we also planted crosses to remind ourselves of this tragedy of violence in oakland. we don't have the crosses anymore, we have a sign that just reminds us. >> we touched on this, but where
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did the god is speaking come from? god is still speaking? >> a dear friend of ours, ron buford saw a little card, gracey allen left for george burnes when she died. it said, never put a period where god has placed a comma. ron went home or to his motel that night and said "why don't we want to put a period where god has placed a comma?" he said ah, because god is still speaking. >> that's amazing. glad to hear that. >> we have one more segment, we gotta wrap up. there are some other great stories. thank you for joining us, please join us in our final segment with the jazz and justice church.
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if you've been with us, you know that god is still speaking through lois and marjory. we want to thank them for being here. tell us more, and during the break, you mentioned john robinson. >> john robinson was part of their regional pilgrims and puritans. he gave instructions as the mayflower was setting sale to america. he said to them, don't stay where calvin and luther left you. more light and more truth to bring god's holy word. that's kind of a statement, a tag line in the united church of christ to keep listening for the
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voice of god. not only go to religious writings, but keep listening for what's happening today. and so, we can revise, we can learn new things. we don't have to be stuck in dogma. >> wow, you listen well, thank you for that. >> marjorie, you want to answer that with the last minute or so? >> i think it's important, it's important for folks to realize, god is still speaking in all of our lives. we, we live in a particular place in our lives, but we don't know what good stuff is coming for us. we have, i just want to tell a brief story, we have a homeless person who has taken up residence in a church and several members of our church have been working actively with him to help him find a place to live. it's important for us to see him, not just as a homeless person, but to learn his name, learn his story and to know and trust that god has something coming for him as well.
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we sort of keep that in front of us. we don't know the end of any one story yet. we don't know what marvelous things god will do in our lives. well, my blessings to all , you both. >> thank you, and to you. >> i hope when i have a break, i can come over and enjoy some of that jazz. >> spur of the moment, spontaneity, we might ask you to preach. >> i'd love to. i'd love to. >> even if i make a mistake, it'll be okay, right? >> great to have you, marjory and lois. continue your ministries, fantastic. >> you were the first to ordain
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women, african-americans and gay lesbians. >> one of the first. >> fantastic, continue. >> thank you for joining us for you have surely been blessed this morning. our blessings to you during this advent christmas season. the joy of the lord is our strength. go with you this season. that joy.
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